Previously at the ICA - Events

Crowds and Party

Culture Now: Jodi Dean

18 Mar 2016

Political theorist Jodi Dean is in conversation with Paolo Gerbaudo, Lecturer in Digital Culture and Society at King’s College London. They discuss Crowds and Party (Verso, 2016), Dean's new book examining the question: how do mass protests become an organised activist collective? A professor in the Political Science department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York, Dean is renowned for her contributions to contemporary political theory, media theory and feminist theory. Her work draws on Marxism, psychoanalysis, post-structuralism and postmodernism, and in this new work, Dean channels the energies of the riotous crowds who took to the streets in the past five years into an argument for the political party.

Rejecting the emphasis on individuals and multitudes, in Crowds and Party Dean argues that we need to rethink the collective subject of politics. When crowds appear in spaces unauthorised by capital and the statesuch as in the Occupy movement in New York, London and across the worldthey create a gap of possibility. But too many on the Left remain stuck in this beautiful moment of promise - they argue for more of the same, further fragmenting issues and identities, rehearsing the last thirty years of left-wing defeat. In Crowds and Party, Dean argues that previous discussions of the party have missed its affective dimensions, the way it operates as a knot of unconscious processes and binds people together. Dean shows how we can see the party as an organisation that can reinvigorate political practice.

Jodi Dean teaches political and media theory in Geneva, New York. She has written or edited eleven books, including The Communist Horizon and Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies.

Paolo Gerbaudo is a political and cultural sociologist based at King's College London where he acts as director of the Centre for Digital Culture. His research focuses on the transformation of protest movements and political parties in a digital era. He is the author of Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism (Pluto, 2012), and of The Mask and the Flag: the Rise of Anarcho-populism in Global Protest (Hurst/OUP, 2016).

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